Clinton wants Russian poll complaints probe

5th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday the United States has serious concerns about Russia's parliamentary elections and called for allegations of fraud and vote-rigging to be investigated.

"We do have serious concerns about the conduct of the elections," Clinton told a press conference, citing a preliminary report by the OSCE about alleged attempts to stuff ballot boxes and manipulate voter lists.

She said she expected to be briefed on the OSCE report after she arrives later Monday at OSCE headquarters in Vilnius.

"We are also concerned by reports that independent Russian election observers ... were harassed and had cyber attacks on their websites," she said.

"Russian voters deserve a full investigation of all credible reports of electoral fraud and manipulation," the chief US diplomat told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on Afghanistan in Bonn.

"We hope in particular that the Russian authorities will take action on recommendations that come forward from observer missions like the OSCE in its final report and (from) their own electoral observers.

"The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted and that means they deserve free, fair transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them."

She vowed to continue to "speak out" about the electoral process, adding that she had been watching the results "with great interest".

"Clearly the Duma is going to have a different make-up than it did before this election," she added.

Sunday's polls "were characterised by frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including serious indications of ballot box stuffing," the OSCE said after observing vote counts in 115 polling stations.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling party United Russia won the polls with a much reduced majority, after the opposition reported mass violations and crackdowns on independent media and election monitors.

But the observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) missions and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly said the elections were characterised by a "lack of level playing field".

© 2011 AFP

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